Overview of Disability

Disability Back Pay

Disability Requirements

Disability Applications

Disability Advice Tips

How long do cases take?

How to win Disability

SSD Mistakes to avoid

Disability for Mental

What if you get denied?

How to file Appeals

Disability through SSA

SSI Disability Benefits

Disability for Children

How do I qualify for it?

Working and Disability

Disability Award Notice

Disability Lawyer Q&A

Disability Conditions List

What is a disability?

Your Medical Evidence

Filing for your Disability

Disability Eligibility

SSD SSI Definitions

Recent Questions

SSDRC Disability Blog

What is the process for approving a Social Security disability claim?

The process for approving a Social Security disability claim involves many steps.

First you must file a Social Security and/or SSI disability claim. You might go to your local Social Security office, call the toll free Social Security number (1-800-772-1213), or you may even go online to file a disability claim. However, should you choose to file for Social Security disability online, you will not be able to file an SSI claim. At this time, SSI applications are not available online.

Consequently, after submitting information online for SSI (this is considered a lead and not an actual application), the local Social Security office will contact you to set up a time to talk to you about potential SSI benefits and other documentation required for your disability claim.

If you do not hear from a Social Security representative in a reasonable amount of time, you may want to call the local Social Security office to check the status of the disability claim.

Once an application has been taken for Social Security disability, the claim will be forwarded to the state disability agency (which is responsible for making medical disability determinations for the Social Security Administration) for a medical determination.

Remember that disability is based on your inability to work and earn a substantially gainful income due to your medical condition (or conditions) for a period that has lasted twelve months, or is expected to last twelve months.

Many factors are considered in the medical determination such as what your work activity has been for the past fifteen years, your age, your medical conditions, and what functional limitations have been caused by your medical condition or conditions.

If your Social Security disability claim has been denied, you may appeal the medical decision within sixty days (plus five days for mailing) of your denial notice. The second level of the disability claims process is known as reconsideration or review (it currently goes by different names depending on which state you live in).

Do not become discouraged if you are not allowed at this level, as only a small percentage of disability denials are reversed at this level. Of course, you will once again have sixty days (plus five mailing days) to appeal your disability denial.

The third level of the disability approval process is known as the hearing request. At a Social Security disability hearing, you will have your disability claim reviewed by an administrative law judge (ALJ). Also, you will be able to present your case and explain how your medical conditions have caused you to be unable to work at a substantial level.

Keep in mind that the ALJ has the ability to take more factors into consideration while making a medical determination than the state agency disability examiners have at their discretion.

Sometimes it is difficult to objectively present your own disability case, therefore you may wish to have a representative present your case facts to the judge. Statistics seem to indicate that disability claimants with representation are more likely to receive a medical allowance or approval at a disability hearing, particularly if they are represented.

Return to:  Social Security Disability Resource Center, or read answers to Questions

Related pages:

How are Social Security Disability cases decided? - the Process Social Security Uses In Every Disability Case
What is the process for approving a Social Security disability claim?
Filing for Disability - Can you speed up the Social Security Disability process?
Why is the Social Security Disability Decision Process So Slow?
Crucial Information about the Social Security Disability Application Process and SSI
Disability Claims Through Social Security How Long is the Process?
The Social Security disability award notice process in North Carolina
How to qualify for disability - The Process of Qualifying for Benefits
Social Security Disability SSI Criteria and the Evaluation Process
The Social Security Disability Approval Process and the Criteria for Decisions
Why do I keep getting denied for disability?

Information on the following topics can be found here: Social Security Disability Questions and in these subsections:

Frequently asked questions about getting Denied for Disability Benefits | FAQ on Disability Claim Representation | Info about Social Security Disability Approvals and Being Approved | FAQ on Social Security Disability SSI decisions | The SSD SSI Decision Process and what gets taken into consideration | Disability hearings before Judges | Medical exams for disability claims | Applying for Disability in various states | Selecting and hiring Disability Lawyers | Applying for Disability in North Carolina | Recent articles and answers to questions about SSD and SSI

These pages answer some of the most basic questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim.

Filing for disability - How to file for SSD or SSI and the Information that is needed by Social Security
How to Apply for Disability - What medical conditions can you apply and qualify for?
Applying for Disability - How long does it take to get Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?
What happens if I file a disability application and it is denied by a disability examiner or Judge?
How to Prove you are disabled and qualify to win disability benefits
How do you prove your disability case if you have a mental condition or impairment?
Social Security Disability Back pay and How Long it Takes to Qualify for it and receive it
Social Security Disability SSI - Eligibility Requirements and Qualifications Criteria